Getting ready for next weekend’s 2016 Maker Faire.
Again, as a non-commercial hobbyist, I have been accepted for a booth at this year’s event where I will show various aspects of a DIY home automation system. There are sensors and switches and blinking lights that turn on and off. Very automagical.
I’ve presented my system at the Maker Faire for the last 5 years and each year I show some new aspect I’ve added. I started with a system that just collected data. Then I added a coordinating piece, Node-RED, that provides a signal routing function (they call it a component for the wiring of the IoT – the Internet of Things).
This year my new piece is a bot that runs in a chat system. In the software development world, the concept of using chat to communicate with one’s workmates has taken off. The new twist is the use of a bot (a software robot). The bot is typically programmed to assist the developers and to notify them of any ongoing issues.
My addition is to include a stand-alone home chat system called Rocket.chat that provides a way to “converse” (i.e., chat) with the home automation system. The “bot” software is from the folks at Github called Hubot. The attached image shows the beginnings of how that might look and at the end, the light does in fact turn on. Woo hoo!
I have named my chatbot, Iris, who was, in Greek mythology, the messenger of the gods.
The Rocket.chat software, as is, would be useful for family members but the chatbot addition makes it easy to keep up with what’s going on in the home.
The conversation is started with the call to Iris…
Iris list rooms – and Iris responds with a list of the rooms found in the home automation repository.
Iris turn on light in kitchen – and Iris responds by looking up the specifics about how the light in the kitchen is physically turned on. It does so by connecting to the Node-RED coordinating software which in turn makes the appropriate calls.
Of course, there are commercial versions of this with voice recognition like Apple’s Siri, or Amazon’s Alexa (using their Echo device) but here I have a system, fully open source, running without the need of any cloud connection…
Perhaps, next year, after I get the text-based system working smoothly, I might add voice recognition. But one step at a time.
If you’re in the area and you have some time, come on out to the Maker Faire. It’s an inspirational event; a gathering of people who bring their collective use of tech and art for all to share. You might be overwhelmed but you won’t be disappointed.